About 3 years ago, I sent an email to the SPLC asking why Peter LaBarbera was not on their list of anti-gay hate groups. I don’t remember the exact reason they gave me. It amounted to something saying they really didn’t know too much about him or something like that. I have since lost the email, so I can’t say I really remember the answer.
I now see, Mr. Labarbera is listed as a hate group along with a few other groups I also believe belong on the list. LaBarbera like many of those on the list make the claim that gay groups and liberals are trying to silence them, end the debate, etc. A claim I not only would refute, I find it amusing. A long list of bloggers, pro-equality groups and others have been debating LaBarbera for years. The issue is when we nail him on his facts, his faulty research or lack of decency toward folks like Jeremy Hooper at GoodAsYou whose wedding picture Labarbera has hijacked and defaced, Peter seems to run, hide or scream utter nonsense.
I would offer to Mr. LaBarbera and others who claim GLBT groups are trying to silence them, we have been debating for years and debates are useless and dialogue is impossible with someone whose relies on biased criteria as a starting point. As this point, I believe the debate is over. Even the idea someone would debate our lives and loves like it is just a political issue is pretty offense to me. Peter’s presentation of our lives leaves me feeling pretty irritated because I value honesty, integrity and most of all respect. A few of the values not met for me when I look at his blog.
Anyway, I mostly am trying saying that I am happy the SPLC has added Americans for Truth to their list. I appreciate it because it discredits many of the outright lies and attacks he inflicts on gays and lesbians. It also makes it more difficult for him to raise money and make a living at the expense of others.
I would also offer to Mr. LaBarbera and others like him that since leaving the world of daily blogging I have step into a world where I regularly see young lives taken by street violence. I see folks struggling to get jobs, feed families and find healthcare. I see incredible amounts of systemic racism against Black, Hispanic and other nonwhite groups. I see lots of areas where Mr. LaBarbera could place his energy and be a lot more inline with the message of the Jesus I learned about in the bible.
At a recent conflict workshop series I did here in New Haven, CT, a young minority woman said to me, “If you kill a Yale Student, it is National news, when you kill one of us, it is another day in the ‘hood.” I have to admit hearing these words from a young person hurt because I value life. I heard another state how it is easier to get gun than a job. I would love to see the LaBarbera’s of the world, the Bryan Fischer’s of the world and other anti-gay groups start putting the money and energy where your mouth is. You say you are really about god, Jesus and the bible then prove it by taking the thousands of dollars you are making at the expense of others lives and starting putting the money to the well being and enriching of others lives.
This is the article I wrote for Rhode Island’s Get Magazine. They Titled the article, “It Gets Better and Other Life’s Truths by Joe Brummer” and made it one of their cover stories. Feel free to spread it around.
It Gets Better and Other Life’s Truths
It is hard to know exactly where the right place would be to start this story. Is it with the statistics on GLBT suicides? Is it the statistics on GLBT bullying and violence in our communities? Perhaps it is with my own experiences of being bullied or gay bashed? Or is it the gut wrenching, distressing realization that those statistics have names and faces and we have seen 15 young lives cut short at their own hands in just 60 days. Of course, these are only the lives we heard about in the news and minuses those that were lost and went unreported.
Justin Aaberg (15) July 9, 2010 in Minnesota
Billy Lucas (15) September 9, 2010 in Indiana
Cody J. Barker (17) September 13, 2010 in Wisconsin
Tyler Clementi (18) September 22, 2010 in New Jersey
Asher Brown (13) September 23, 2010 in Texas
Harrison Chase Brown (15) September, 25 2010 in Colorado
Seth Walsh (13) September 25, 2010 in California
Raymond Chase (19) September 29, 2010 in Rhode Island
Felix Sacco (17) September 29, 2010 in Massachusetts
Caleb Nolt (14) September 30, 2010 in Indiana
Alec Whitney Henriksen (19) September 30 in Indiana
Zach Harrington (19) October 5, 2010 in Oklahoma
Jeanine Blanchette (21) October 5, 2010 in Toronto
Chantal Dube (17) October 5, 2010 in Toronto
Aiyisha Hassan (19) October 12, 2010 in California
All of these lives were cut short because they believed the world did not and would never accept them as they were, gay. Many of them were not just bullied. They were tortured by their peers. In some cases, the schools did little of nothing to protect or console them. I know those days well. I remember first being bullied in the third and fourth grades for being smaller than most other kids. I wasn’t much for sports and it seemed the world knew more about me being gay than I did or at least that is what they told me with the taunts and name calling. One of the leaders of this little movement to beat the little Brummer kid we’ll call Billy C. He once led a group of kids to my house to ask my mom if I could come out to play, my mom on the other hand was wise to this game. I remember her in her night gown, pushing this kid into the middle of the street telling him not to mess with her son. It was a failed threat as they continued to bully me well into high school.
Another kid who often bullied me in the sixth and seventh grade named Mike M would come threaten me each day at recess. Typical anti-gay names combined with some pushing, shoving and knocking me down left me constantly scared. I would do my best to hide my fear and play it tough. I would see him coming and begin to shake, sweat and feel helpless as I was a pretty small kid. I once brought my little blue, Cub Scout pen knife to school and kept it open in my jacket pocket so when Mike came to mess with me, I could just scare him off. When I did finally pull out the knife, one of the good nuns came and took it and never mentioned it again. She also did nothing to stop the bullying.
In sixth grade, my family received endless prank phone calls for weeks on end. We would hang up the phone and it would ring again within seconds. My parents eventually traced the calls, and the two school girls who were doing it claimed it was my fault because I shot them the finger when they teased me.
High school was no better, I remember Mike C and his goons forcing me to sing happy birthday to a teacher on a table in the lunch room on the first week of freshman year. I was embarrassed, afraid and dreaded what was ahead of me. I went home and hid in my room that day. The teacher did nothing.
I look at the story of Billy Lucas in Indiana where his bullies continued to harass him after his death by leaving crude comments on a FaceBook page created in his memory by his friends. Even in death, these bullies were trying to send a message that being gay was a “bad” thing. What drives this?
The message gay youth hear is the same message many of us heard as we grew up. Being gay is sinful, immoral, and disgusting. We heard that gays are diseased, child molesters, to be feared. Basically, we were programmed to believe we were inherently bad people just because we were attracted to members of the same sex. It is no wonder with this message being the one youth hear, they choose to harm themselves. It is also no wonder when bullies hear this; they believe their behavior should be celebrated because they are somehow doing society a favor.
The San Francisco State University Chavez Center Institute has found that LGBTQ youth who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Another study published in the American Journal of Public Health in August of 1998 showed that out of 131 gay/bi males, 28% had attempted suicide.
The silver lining in these horrible events is the brain child of advice columnist, Dan Savage. The “It Gets Better” campaign started with one video of Dan and his partner telling gay youth, it does get better. Within hours of their first video post to YouTube, dozens, then hundreds of videos came from other gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual and even some of our best straight allies in the public eye.
Watching many of these videos I must admit didn’t just choke me up, I outright cried. The stories moved me because the sense of concern for gay youth is so sincere. I do think the award for best, “It gets better” video belongs to Fort Worth City Councilman, Joel Burns.
Burns made his plea to young gay youth at a city council meeting where he spoke on camera of his own experience growing up gay being bullied, harassed and called a “Faggot.” A word, many of us heard and were called before we even knew what it meant. Burns, fighting back tears and even stopping at some points to regain his composure, says to GLBT youth, “This story is not just for the adults here who may choose or not choose to support me. This story is for the young people who might be holding that gun tonight, or the rope, or the pill bottle, you need to know that the story doesn’t end where I didn’t tell it, on that unfortunate day, there is so, so ,so much more. Yes, high school was difficult, coming out was painful, but life got so much better for me.”
Beyond these touching moments and glimpses of hope, much pain still prevails. These suicides have helped to draw the media eye to the very size of this bullying issue as suddenly dozens of reports have come in drawing attention to the violence gays and lesbians face. An 11 year old boy in Ohio had his arm broken by classmates because he wanted to be a cheerleader. In Newark, DE a young seven year old boy was locked in a port-a-potty screaming while the bullies knocked the unit over covering him in human waste. In Dallas, TX, three teens were arrested for beating a 14 year old classmate on the bus while calling him a faggot. The driver of the bus and the bus monitor did nothing to stop the attack.
We have a long way to go when it comes to protecting our youth. Research shows when anti-bullying campaigns directly address sexual orientation, they are more effective than the ones that do not. While anti-gay, religious groups fight against efforts to include GLBT voices in anti-bullying campaigns claiming these are attempts to push our agenda, students are still in harm’s way.
I remember being 20 years old in Southern NJ and having my head repeated kicked against cement next to the Cooper River while being spit on and hearing the words, “You ready to meet Jesus ya’ little faggot?” I remembering believing I was about to die and agreeing for a moment that I deserved it. All the while, those committing these actions celebrated “getting the bad guys” we have been made to be by our government, our churches, our movies, our TV’s and our society. I remember waking up 3 days later and seeing my head swollen three times its size, black and blue and stitches in my face. In those days, I believed I deserved what I got because it was true, I was a faggot. I knew because Billy C and Mike C made sure I knew and never forgot. Those views of me were changed by the love of some great friends and a great partner who I love and have lived with for the last 10 years.
Anti-bullying campaigns are just band-aids on the larger problem. We need to completely change the way GLBT folks are seen. No more demonizing, less than human debates about our lives in the campaign trails and Fox news. No more laws that dehumanize GLBT folks by saying were are a danger to the military and our unions will destroy marriage. If you portray us as an enemy to be defeated, then violence against us will just be celebrated.
If you want kids to stop killing themselves for being gay, then you need to change the message they hear that tells them they are less than human. Change the message to one of hope that truly says, “Yes, it does get better.”
I have been spending a lot of my thoughts and energy lately on building compassion for those who do things or believe things with which I disagree. This is not an easy task and it really involves not allowing myself to loose sight of other people’s humanity. It also means truly focusing on the needs met by other people’s actions especially when I disagree.
Finding this compassion also seems to require me to believe that all humans are basically well intentioned and that is surprisingly not that hard. For starters, psychologists have noted for decades that all human behavior is in the service of meeting human needs. If the intentions of all people are really about getting their needs met, and all of us have the same universal human needs, that would mean that none of us has ever done anything that wasn’t well intentioned. We are all just trying to get our needs met. We just don’t always choose strategies that work with everyone else.
I have been watching the news and reading blogs of people with whom I disagree on strategies to meet their needs. The healthcare bill is a prime example of this. I am in favor of a the strategy of the public option. This “strategy” meets my needs for growth for us as a Country because I believe it helps us value every human life. It also meets my needs for financial security for the Country as I think this is the better move at keeping costs down since our treatments are keeping people alive longer but not without significant costs that are rising as our treatments get more advance, and people need more care. I realize that other people feel anxious and concerned about this strategy because it doesn’t meet their needs for growth or financial security for the Country. Pointing out that our needs are the same. We all want, value and need financial security, we all want growth for the Country and the strategies we choose are not in agreement. Our needs are what connect all of us.
Here’s the CATCH!
When I focus on the needs of other people and NOT the strategies, it is much easier for me to see them as human and find compassion. It is easier for me than labeling them as “greedy” or “insensitive” to the plight of others. I can then acknowledge their humanity while disagreeing with their tactics. I can separate the people from the problem.
I realize I have oversimplified this for the sake of writing this article and that this takes more effort than some may think it is worth. For me, as I can’t speak for anyone else, this is about the person I want to be and the world I want for future generations. I don’t want to see others, regardless what they have done, as a label. Take for instance those who are against same-sex marriage, I don’t want to see a “bigot” because I have grown to believe people are not really “bigots.” I think they are choosing strategies to meet their needs for spirituality that don’t meet my needs for equality. I sometimes struggle to see their needs and get past the name calling that happens in my head, yet that is the person I am working to be. I wish we could find ways to meet both our needs and I have some doubts that will happen. I still don’t want to sink so low that I have to call them names or view them as the enemy. It is those enemy images that block us from seeing others’ humanity. It is also those same enemy images that block them from seeing our humanity.
As I have said, this is a goal I have and I am working to achieve it in my life. To find compassion for even those who I just don’t like. I have learned that we don’t have to like people to connect with them as humans and yet when we can connect with them, humans are beautiful. What’s not to like really?
One of the reasons I stopped writing as much about gay rights is that I realized how radical it is to look for compassion and empathy for people in the pro-family, anti-gay side. (example: Peter LaBarbera, Mary Gallagher, Brian Brown, etc.) I have learned this isn’t always favorable in the eyes of many and I am even looking for compassion for them. Sometimes I can find it and sometimes I can’t get past the fact I believe in the deepest parts of my soul, their tactics of name calling and personal attacks on the other side hurt more than help our goals.
I guess it would be helpful if I explained what I mean by compassion and empathy. First off, it doesn’t mean that I approve of what they are doing. Compassion means I want to understand the “why” behind the actions. What is this about for them? For me, I think it is the easy way out to just call them a bigot or a hater and then call it a day. It is the easy way out to label someone something that detracts from their humanity and it is what they are doing to us? I think it also oversimplifies things. If all behavior is in the service of needs, then their actions meet universal human needs for them. What are those needs and can they be met some other way and at less cost to others?
Even for lesser political things, I want to reach this place of compassion in my life. The guy that cuts me off on the highway could be seen as a maniac, rude, reckless and any other number of labels. With compassion, he might be seen as someone in a rush to see his dying mother before she passing away in the emergency room.
I don’t always agree with the people I meet. The real deal is that most people are not bigots, they are afraid. Calling them names like hater or bigot increases their fear while confronting their fear with compassion may actually calm it. I believe the latter to be more effective.
So, how am I doing this? What is the process?
The first step is to remove the labels we have on people. As long as we are seeing people as bigots, haters, heartless, selfish, greedy, insensitive, cruel or whatever label we have, it is likely we are part of the problem, not the solution. Next we need to connect and empathize with what needs the person was trying meet when they did what they did. Unless we connect and understand those needs, our actions in response are likely to create more violence.
Next, we need to to check back with ourselves. We need to look at our own feelings, our pain in response to what this person (or group) did and what needs of ours were not met. For each enemy image we have of someone, we must empathize with ourselves as to what needs of ours are not met. For example, if we see our boss as “a jerk” and “a control freak” because he requested that all travel requests be approved before reimbursements will be given, it will be unlikely that we will be able to empathize with why he has done this and therefore impossible for us to find other ways for his needs to be met at less cost to us.
Chances are, if we only see the boss as a control freak, we will not address the issues that will then meet our needs. We will instead feed our enemy images and look for other ways to back up our conclusion that he is a control freak. On the other hand, if we are able to check in with our own needs, that travel isn’t always predictable and that pre-approval may not always be possible and that we have a need for financial security and cannot afford to “not” get reimbursed, then perhaps we can explore ways to meet everyone’s needs. After we have done away with the enemy images, then we can explore what needs the boss was trying to meet with his new rule and see if there is another way that need can be met AND still meet our own needs.
For me, this is a personal journey I am taking to be the person I want to be. I can’t say I know what needs are met by Peter LaBarbera with some of his actions. I also can’t say I know what Gov. Donald Carcieri needs were when he vetoed the domestic partner funeral bill. I know the easy way out is to call him a bigot and a hater. It also means my reactions will be from an energy of violence rather than compassion. I don’t want that for myself. I believe we can make change in other ways without using violence either physical or non-physical.
It is unlikely we can make change by convincing those who disagree with us how evil they are. It is unlikely we can influence voters to vote for our rights by convincing them they are bigots and haters. I do believe we can make change by empathizing with the fear in people that is the root of homophobia. We can influence change by trying to help others see that their actions are effecting us in negative ways and explore ways they can get their needs met at less cost to us. This process will work in the quest for equality and it can work in the conflicts in our families, places of employment and even our churches.
One of the reason both Gandhi and MLK were so successful in their nonviolent campaigns was their ability to find compassion for those who were viewed as their adversary. This was also the case for President Ronald Reagan and Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev who somehow found ways to see each others humanity beyond their political differences. They didn’t start this way. They were arch rivals until one day Reagan is said to have turn to Gorbachev after a heated debate and say, “This isn’t working. Can we start over? Hi my name is Ron. Can I call you Mikhail” and they formed a friendship that helped to end the cold war.
I believe this change in view can help us solve many of today’s problems in our families, in our schools, in our workplaces and in our communities. It is written in the Tao Te Ching that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. I believe compassion is a better way and we can find it for those with whom we disagree when we change the way we look at them. I know my journey is not for everyone but imagine if everyone took this journey with me. I wonder what we might accomplish. As much as Gandhi? As much as King?
Marshall Rosenberg writes in his book, Speak Peace in a World of Conflict: What you say next could change the world:
“Peace requires something more than revenge or merely turning the other cheek; it requires empathizing with the fears and unmet needs that provide the impetus for people to attack each other. Being aware of these feelings and needs, people lose their desire to attack because they can see the human ignorance leading to these attacks; instead, their goal becomes providing the empathetic connection and education that will enable them to transcend their violence and engage in cooperative relationships.”
I am convinced if we can transform the way we see those with whom we disagree, we can find ways to meet everyone’s needs. As soon as we can get past the labels that declare who is right and who is wrong; the labels that declare who deserves what punishment or reward then I believe we have a chance to make real lasting change. The poet and philosopher Rumi wrote, “Out there beyond the ideas of rightness and wrongness there is a field. I will meet you there.” It is on that field that the solutions to many of the conflicts in our lives stand for the taking.
I also believe that in those cases where it is difficult to make this connection, that at least one party has to make the effort for anything life-enriching to happen. Why not you? This is how we can “be the change we wish to see in the world.”
This film looks to be another of those films where those who need to see it….won’t….as is usually the case.
While we stand and squabble about letting gays marry or stopping loving couples from seeing each other in the hospital….spending millions of dollars to protect an institution that 80% of the world may starve before they ever see, I can’t help but wonder if the energy is being spent protecting the wrong things. Stop fighting gay people and start feeding those who are starving….
Those who fought to pass Prop 8 spent millions of dollars on ad campaigns and distortions that could have built schools, bought mosquito nets or fed the homeless. As we approach the next round of anti-gay campaigns, I wonder how much money will be wasted trying to stop people like me and my partner Rick from being married. That same money could be used to fund music programs in inner-city schools. It could be used to develop after school programs that help keep kids out of the reach of gang violence.
I would ask the anti-gays of the world….stop fighting gays and start working on the real issues that threaten our society as humans. Your efforts to “save” marriage are bunk if we have no planet to get married on…..
Stop fighting Gay people and start feeding these people:
20% of the population of the planet uses 80% of the resources and 30% more than the planet can regenerate.
over 50% of the grain traded around the world is used for animal feed or biofuels
of the 7 billion people on the planet, over 1 million are starving with no access to food
A College Point, NY man was brutally gay bashed this past Friday night in Queens. Jack Price, 49 years old was beaten while anti-gay slurs were screamed at him. He is now in a coma with everyone one of his ribs broken, two collapsed lungs, spleen and liver damage. It is believed the two assailants followed him into a deli calling him “faggot” then followed him outside where he was beaten. His chances of survival are being evaluated on an hour by hour basis.
This makes me sick to my stomach because I value safety. What makes me more sick is the passive violence that fuels this active violence that we barely acknowledge. This violence won’t stop until we change the climate of speech that makes GLBT folks the “bad” guys out to “destroy” marriage or “indoctrinate” children. As long as we have hate speech, we will have more crimes like these. As long as anti-gay activist are ready and willing to dehumanize and demean our lives, our history and our loves, there will be a ready army of others ready to give action to their words.
I also will look to the anti-gay groups to take a public stand and condemn this act of violence. I would request that Americans for Truth, Concerned Women for America, American Family Association, etc…issue press releases denouncing this act of violence against GLBT folks. If they are really about the love for GLBT folks they say they are, I would like them to put their words to action.
Part I of this article can be found here
The relationship between language and violence is the subject of psychology professor O.J. Harvey’s research at the University of Colorado. Using random samples of pieces of literature from countries around the world, he tabulated the frequency of words that classify and judge people [the types of words that often provoke defensive reactions like “threat” and “radical extremist” or other words that are used to classify groups or individuals in negative terms]. Not surprisingly, he found a high correlation between the frequent use of such words and the incidence of violence. I does not surprise me that there is considerably less violence in cultures where people think in terms of human needs than in cultures where people labels one another “goo” or “bad” and believe that the “bad” ones deserve to be punished. In 75 percent of the television programs shown during the hours when American children are most likely to be watching, the hero either kills people or beats them up. The violence typically constitutes the “climax” of the show. Viewers, having been taught that bad guys deserve to be punished, take pleasure in watching this violence.
Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life (pages 17-18)
While most anti-gay groups deny their vocal objections and misinformation about homosexuality have any affect on the violence experienced by GLBT folks, most experts on violence and hate would agree that the culture of animosity and fear of gay and lesbian people is fueled in part by the writings and messages sent out by anti-gay religious organizations like Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. For the most part, any writings this writer has ever read from these groups contained little facts based on peer-reviewed scientific research and a whole lot of moral judgment, fear and dehumanizing of GLBT persons. Over the last few years, several researches have come forward to publicly object to the misuse of their research by these religious groups. At best the strategy these groups have been taking is to paint the image of gay people as an enemy or a threat thus causing their readers to react defensively to the threat.
The basis of the arguments made by these religious groups is that homosexuality is morally objectionable, against nature, and a threat to society. They use words as metaphors for war to try and motivate readers to take action against the mysterious “gay agenda”that they present as a threat to society. They use metaphoric language making reference to war something most people recognize as violence. In a recent video posting on youtube Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth refers Matt Barber as a “culture warrior” fighting the radical extremists referring to “organized homosexuality.” They talk about the “battle to defend marriage” or in one headline from the Concerned Women for America (CWA) site they refer to the “Undeclared war to ENDA Our Liberty”and use other war references like “cultural bombers.” In the same article they say (which is accompanied by the graphic of a handgun):
“Our very survival is at stake, not just our economic well-being. When a spirited crowd rightly puts the screws to our rulers over their financial profligacy, someone needs to ask them as well why they’re serving as crew members on cultural bombers piloted by Pelosi, Obama and Kennedy.”
In the context of the article the writers at CWA are saying that GLBT supporters are a threat to the very “survival” of their readership. These are strong words that not surprisingly add to strong reactions. It is also not surprising that a group presented as a threat to survival, dehumanized into immoral, diseased, and other enemy images, is the second highest target for violent hate crimes in America. As we have seen through the work of O.J Harvey’s work, such crimes can been seen as justified and even enjoyable because the perpetrators are “taking care of the bad guy” or removing a threat. As long as GLBT folks are portrayed as a threat to marriage and society by groups and individuals like Matt Barber or Peter LaBarbera and his group Americans for Truth, such violence against can easily be seen like the climax of the show where the good guys beat up or kill the bad guys. The violence is celebrated because the threat has been wounded or removed. The bad guys have gotten what we have learned bad guys deserve.
In the case of CWA and the use of GUN in their graphic, not only is the group creating justification for the violence by portraying GLBT folks as the bad guys who deserve punishment, the pistol in the graphic is a clear message of what they seem to believe should be the punishment. What these “pro-family” advocates need to see is that they cannot go around telling everyone GLBT people are the witches of the village, stack the wood and then claim no responsibility when someone shows up with a match.
This writer would like to see the consciousness of this debate change. It is my firm belief that groups can disagree and still not use language in a way that leads to violence. If we can get these groups to starting thinking terms of human needs rather than what people “are” or what they deserve, I am convinced we could reduce the number of hate crimes and violent incidents against gays and lesbians. I am confident change could happen and yet doubtful we can get them to hear us.
It is my professional and personal opinion that hate speech helps to cultivate the culture of violence that currently exists for GLBT folks around the planet. Hate speech takes the “us vs. them” mentality and creates the justification needed for winning over an enemy and the objectification of gays and lesbians that allows people to use violence against us. Clinical psychologist, hostage negotiator, professor and author, George Kohlrieser writes in his book Hostage at the Table on page 106:
People do not kill people - they never have and they never will. People who kill [or use violence to injure] perceive other people as objects; they are killing in a state of detachment or broken bonding. The killer must see the other person as nothing more than an object or enemy to be eliminated. If at any moment that object becomes a human being - a person provoking empathy in the killer - the act of violence is stopped cold. The problem arises with those individuals who are so wounded in their attachment capacity that they cannot feel empathy, form human bonds or maintain bonding under high emotional stress.
Hate speech that objectifies GLBT folks into demons, possessed beings, a diseased threat, or immoral heathens is the exact type of stuff the aids wounded people into becoming killers or bashers. While anti-gay activist may not actively be promoting violence against gays and lesbians, they are certainly providing the material to help objectify us or make us seem less than human to a mind who is already wounded. They work hard to present GLBT folks as anything other than human by to conveying others that we are a threat to children, diseased, against god, or militant.
We currently live in a society that associates gays and lesbians with negative “things” and feelings. We hear young kids saying “that’s so gay” for anything they find negative or bad. Add to this culture of negative messages, the words of anti-gay groups like Americans for Truth About Homosexuality or Concerned Women for America that claim GLBT persons are not human but instead, “a threat to marriage” or “predators after our children” or “threat to our free speech” or a “threat to taxpayers” and you have a recipe for murder, violence, and hate crimes.
Research has shown that many killers and gay bashers show little or no remorse for their actions because they believe they were “justified” for taking out the enemy. The killers feel their victims had it coming because the killers didn’t see the victims as human but instead saw them as objects. This writer can’t imagine where they got that notion. Much like Kohlrieser points out, that in order for them to take the violent actions they have taken, a disconnection from the victim’s humanity must take place. At some point, the offender must have begun to see a gay and lesbian person as an enemy, a threat and no longer human. When one reads many of the quotes and comments from anti-gay writers, it is no wonder to me that killers can so easily see gays and objects rather than humans.
Excerpt from the link above:
“For the first time on Wednesday, jurors in the Bartow, Florida murder trial of Joseph Bearden - charged with the stabbing death of Ryan Skipper - heard testimony suggesting why some believe the killing was actually a hate crime. According to a key prosecution witness, the defendant admitted that he felt no remorse about killing Skipper - an openly gay man - because he had done the world a favor by getting rid of a homosexual. “
As an example of this type of dehumanizing of GLBT folks, I refer to a recent article written by Peter LaBarbera from the group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. In this article LaBarbera paints a picture of a transgendered activist as a “tranny” and while he never states it directly, he wants the reader to see transgendered folks as a threat to taxpayers or an enemy who will force to make others do things they don’t want to do. LaBarbera writes:
“No American should be forced to pay for these nature-rejecting procedures with his or her tax dollars. Homosexual groups like Human Rights Campaign boast of their support for taxpayer-funded “sex-change” operations in cities like San Francisco”
Even in just this small paragraph, the writer is trying to get the reader to see transgendered and homosexual persons as a threat to taxpayers and society as a whole. He is NOT making the case that a bill or piece of legislation is a problem for the taxpayer but the “homosexuals” themselves. There is even a failure to note that transgendered and gay folk are also taxpayers. By this simple distinction, this becomes not a piece to rally against legislation but a rally and call to arms against transgendered and gay Americans. To a mind that is already wounded this is just inspirational language to take GLBT human beings and make them objects worthy of elimination.
A huge part of my message in writing this blog is that I believe there is a better way. I believe folks like Peter LaBarbera could learn a language of life that gets all of our needs met. I do believe that those who are opposed to rights for gays and lesbians can voice their oppositions without dehumanizing the very people they claim to love. There is a better choice and I can assure you, it is a choice. We can choose a language of compassion or a language of war.
or watch at YouTube
Love Not Laws aspires to show that Margaret Mead was correct when she said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
The chances of any of us being taken hostage by an armed madman are thankfully pretty low. On the other hand, our chances of being held psychological hostage to our own fears or the control of others is pretty high. In fact, I would bet to say many of us are psychological hostages to the unresolved conflicts in our lives. George Kohlrieser has been a professional hostage negotiator for decades and brings his years of conflict resolution skills in compact form in the book, Hostage at the Table.
From the get-go this book is captivating with stories of hostage situations taken from Kohlriser’s own experiences as a hostage negotiator. By explaining the nature of conflict and the biology of the “fight or flight” nature of our minds, he gives us a clear picture of why so many of us are being held psychological hostages. He takes us through the skills hostage negotiators use to resolve conflicts and shows how those same skills can be used by business leaders, parents and educators to prevent us from being psychological hostages to the everyday conflict that comes up in our lives. Noting that hostage negotiators have a success rate of over 90 percent, this book offers skills to make life more wonderful by learning to deal with conflict.
I found that most of this book and its offerings fit really well with the foundations of Nonviolent Communication. Kohlriser talks about the importance of “bonding and attachment” and learning to bond even with an ‘enemy’ and becoming a “secure-base” are the keys to never thinking like a hostage. He talks extensively about how the bonding process is one of the key skills all hostage negotiators use to create a safe space where dialogue and negotiation can occur. He stresses the importance of connection, which is the goal and purpose of Nonviolence Communication. For this reason, I would recommend all NVC practitioners read this book. I would also urge all business leaders, community activists and politicians to also read this book.
Kohlrieser uses an interesting metaphor in his book that he calls, “putting the fish on the table” where he compares conflict resolution to cleaning and gutting fish. It is a rather gross and bloody metaphor and it works beautifully by noting that when we leave the fish under the table, they fester become toxic and rot under the table and when we put the fish on the table and do the work of gutting and scaling, we are working toward a beautiful dinner that we can enjoy. His point being that to live a beautiful life, we need to put our fish on the table and deal with the mess before we can move on to the beauty of life.
Kohlrieser points out that all hostage takers have suffered great loss. For almost every event of shootings, hijackings, or people barricading themselves into their homes, we find the individuals have suffered great losses. Whether it was a job, the death of a loved one or the loss of one’s home.
Some of Kohlrieser’s guidelines for solving conflict:
An important thing I would like to note about this book is how Kohlrieser explains that the research shows that a person is incapable of killing another person. First, they must dehumanize them to where they are seen as an object. By creating a bond with their captors, many people have managed to stay alive. In the opening story, Kohlrieser tells of a grandmother who bonds with a man who broke into her house in the middle of the night by offering to cook him dinner and give him a place to sleep. Later, in the morning they discover the man was a psychopathic murderer who had murdered the family who were the nearest neighbors. This lesson about bonding and dehumanizing is a valuable lesson to understanding hate crimes and the part that “hate speech” plays in these crimes. By dehumanizing gays and lesbians, blacks, immigrants, and others into objects rather than people, it is easier for everyday people to justify violence against them. This is why it is so important that we bond and create dialogue with those who create such speech so they understand the outcomes of their words.
You can read the first chapter of the book, including the story of the grandmother here. (PDF files and requires AcrobatReader)
I just finished reading this article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press on ex-gay issues. The article focuses on a man named Chris Delaney (pictured) from Joseph’s Coat Ministries. It also quotes Randy Thomas of Exodus International and someone named “Dr. Anderson” from the APA. Overall, the article seems to present both sides and yet I was still a little annoyed when I read it. I would value Randy Thomas’ and Chris Delaney’s tone being a little less “venomous” when they talk about gay people. I would also like both of them to acknowledge that homosexuality is, at this point in time, widely accepted as biological and most likely a born trait. While it is true a gay gene has not been identified, a gene for being left handed has also not been identified either and that too is accepted as a inherit. I am mostly annoyed because I value people understanding the whole of the science and I see their position on the science is oversimplified and misleading. They seem to take this black and white stand on the issue and true science embraces the beauty of grey. There are the things we know and the things we are working on knowing.
I also object to the usage of the term “therapy” for what Delaney is doing. When I read that he calls this therapy I feel frustrated as I see therapy as based in science and the study of human biology and behavior. What he is doing is based on religious beliefs. I value honesty and would request Chris Delaney be honest that what he is doing isn’t therapy. It is religious ministry. I fear that people are mislead when they see this as “therapy” when it cannot even be done without a mostly Christian doctrine. True therapy is client centered and vows to “do no harm.” I am hard pressed to see how Delaney can call this therapy when the risk of harm is more accepted by the scientific world than the outcomes of change he claims to have with his clients. I myself have a need for safety for others that is in no way met by this man’s use of misleading terms.
The comments on the article are more interesting than the article itself. In the article, Randy Thomas claims that it isn’t about “them vs. us” yet the comments alone leave me feeling doubtful. He says, ““The media and gay activists want to make it all about some sort of fight between us and them, and that’s just not true, yes, we do have moral disagreements, but we don’t exist to oppose the gay community.” Perhaps Randy isn’t seeing it and yet when I read the comments I see people wanting to be right or wrong, gay or christian, gay or straight, good or bad. I am not sure where those labels will get us because it certainly isn’t any closer to the truth and certainly no closer to understanding the origins of human sexuality. The comments are either for these ex-gay ministries or against. I see them as a great example of how this really is an “us vs. them.”
My real issue with Delaney and Thomas comes from the delivery of the message. Delaney’s message is heard by me as angry and bitter towards gay people. Maybe that isn’t his intentions yet it is what I hear from him. Randy Thomas is heard by me as defensive and resentful even if that isn’t what he was trying to be. If they had a different message, I didn’t hear it and what I did hear from them left me feeling sorry for them. Who knows what they are trying to say. I couldn’t hear it through the bitter and negative remarks about how gay people lie and gay agenda this and that. Delaney was even sure to bring the whole threat thing into it and yet I didn’t see how that help the story other than to paint gays as a menace. In my opinion, that is the goal of these folks each and every time I read what they say. Regardless what words they seem to chose, what I hear isn’t what they say. What America hears also isn’t always what they say. I would really like them to understand that little talked about fact. What someone says, isn’t always what the listener hears. Even this article you are reading could be taken in ways this writer didn’t intend. Words are powerful things and we best be careful how we use them.
Delaney attributes the beliefs about the origins of homosexuality to gay activists yet it is science itself that is leaning towards genetics or pre-birth exposure to hormones in the womb not gay activists. I observe that this is about “us vs. them” and that is always a dangerous way of thinking. It disconnects us rather than bringing us closer to life. Where we should be focused on understanding and empathy, we seem to focus on who is right or wrong and I just don’t believe life is that black and white.
This is such a great idea, so I wanted to promote it here on the site:
Fred Phelps’ clan is coming to Boston! The “God Hates Fags” Westboro Baptist Church is coming to picket the Laramie Project at the Boston Center for the Arts. Fred Phelps and his group travel all across the United States spreading their message of hate. When the group comes to Boston, however, they will be helping to drive equality across America.
Driving Equality is hosting a Phelps-A-Thon to counter Fred Phelps’ hateful message. For every minute the “God Hates Fags” clan is protesting, we will be collecting donations for Driving Equality, a 85-day trek across America to all of the lower 48 states to advance LGBT equality.
Pledge Online here: http://www.emailmeform.com/fid.php?formid=185960
The Phelps clan will be protesting in front of the Boston Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre from 7:15 PM to 8:00 PM on December 12th. You can pledge any amount you chose, whether it be $0.25, $1, $2, or even $5 for every minute they protest. You can even pledge a flat rate for the entire time the group will be demonstrating.
The point of this Phelps-A-Thon is two fold. First, we are using Phelps’ own hateful message to raise funds for a good cause, one that will help counter the lies that are being spread about LGBT people. Second, we will be displaying a sign in front of the “God Hates Fags” clan tallying how much money they have helped raise for LGBT equality. This will certainly upset the group and it is possible that they will leave early to stop our fundraising.
On the “God Hates Fags” website, Phelps has this to say about the upcoming protest in Boston:
BCA Black Box Theatre - God Sent Matt 2 Hell! 527-551 Tremont Street. Matt is in Hell! Deal with it. Just read Romans 1, and see him and you in those words, and finally this: Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have in them that do them. AMEN!
We can turn these hateful words into positive change. Help Drive Equality Across America.
Pledge Online here: http://www.emailmeform.com/fid.php?formid=185960
Driving Equality: http://drivingequality.com/
Driving Equality is a trek across America to raise awareness of the various forms of discrimination faced by LGBT people in each state of the nation. Highlighting the differences in rights, laws, and amendments between the states will shed light on the current social standing of queer individuals today. I hope to create a dialogue about the disparities across the nation, and what can be done to end discrimination for all.
During the summer of 2009, I will be going on an 85-day, 15,000-mile road-trip, through all lower 48 states, to advance LGBT equality. Check out the About page to find out more about the project.
Explore the website! Find out more about me, take a look at my route, learn about the trip’s net-zero environmental impact, and consider donating or becoming a sponsor. When the trip starts, I will be updating the site on a daily basis with blog posts, photos, and videos.
If you are interested in learning more, or being a part of the project, send me an email at Chris@DrivingEquality.com.
Dr. Sa’d Al-’Inzi: When a person commits an abominable act, like homosexuality, for example, or lesbianism, in the case of women’s parlors this constitutes “spreading corruption in the land,” and should be punished by death. […]
Moderator: Other than life imprisonment and the death sentence, what can be done?
Dr. Sa’d Al-’Inzi: According to Islamic law, a homosexual should be thrown from a tall building.
Moderator: What would you do with them?
Dr. Sa’d Al-’Inzi: To be honest, death is too good for them. They should be gathered in a public place, where they would be flogged and tortured, so the truth about these people is made clear and they serve as a lesson to others, because they are an epidemic plaguing society. Read more
I wonder if he really thinks god is love too! Turture, thrown from buildings, public flogging and god loves you. I am baffled at the morality of those who claim to be moral.
H/T: Atheist Media Blog
I decided today that I don’t really care about Mormons or what they spend their money on. I just want to live without fear of discrimination in my life. I don’t really care if more or less blacks voted against me in this past election. I just want to live without fear of losing my job because I am gay. I don’t really care if Christian groups do or do not support my relationship with my partner, I would just like to know we are safe, legally protected and that my tax dollars are not being used against me or him and certainly not “us.”
I also don’t want to spend my time writing, protesting or speaking out for gay rights. I would like to go watch TV on the couch with my partner and the dogs. I don’t want to make signs anymore, or brainstorm the next protest chant. I don’t want to spend hours on the internet searching for the peer reviewed science that corrects the lies and research misused by you and your friends. I don’t want to spend hours at the State House waiting my turn to testify before a committee of men who behind close doors will laugh and call me, “Faggot” and let the bill to protect me die in committee. I would like to go have dinner and a movie, then sit with friends and enjoy life.
I can tell you that I am tired as hell and emotionally worn down over the years of lies and funny looks because I am gay. I am tired of the stereotypes, the misconceptions and the mothers shielding their children from me and my partner when I know deep in my heart, they would be safer with me than most other people. I am tired of worry about what neighborhood I choose to live in and if it is “safe” for people like me. I really just want to live my life in peace.
Sadly, the reality is that I need to muster up some energy and make some posters to head out to the protest on Saturday because no matter how much the bullies try to get me to fight, I refuse to fight. Fists never suited me or my style but don’t think for one precious minute that I am going to back down and let you push me around for another day. It is our time and we are tired of being shunned, abandoned and beat up. As Melissa said, “I am a giant” and will not be afraid, I will not back down and “you will not make me fall.” I will not cower and I will certainly never give up until all of us can be free to go be with the one we love without the fear of you and your version of god.
Give it your best shot! I have survived being bashed twice now. Go ahead, hit me, punch me, pass your amendments but don’t think for one minute you have stopped me or even weakened me because you would be mistaken. The arc of the universe does exactly what Martin said it does. It leans to the side of justice. I have seen it and I know it is true. I don’t just believe in the “beloved community”, I am part of the beloved community. I am the beloved community. We are all the beloved community.
What may surprise you is that I won’t gloat when we are finally free and safe from harm. I won’t rub it in your face. I instead will invite you to dinner and welcome you into my home like a long lost friend. I have not one ounce of hate in my bones. I don’t look down on you and I don’t think less of you. I feel sorry for you. I will always be sad for those who suffer at the hand of ignorance and live in the darkness of fear of their fellow man solely because they didn’t take the time to seek out the truth. I will still see you as my brother no matter what you do to me more because I refuse to see you though the dark and cloudy lens you are choosing to use to look at me.
This video from Palm Springs shows a Christian women who went into an angry crowd of protesters holding a cross. The cross was quickly knocked out of her hands and stomped to the ground. It is unclear to me if she was with a number of other people or just the one guy holding a sign, but regardless this is unacceptable behavior all around.
To start, I think I can’t help but wonder what on earth this women was thinking. The last thing I would ever think of doing would be rolling in a cross burning in drag and screaming “hey boys”. Sometimes, common sense must prevail in our actions but I fail to see what she thought she would accomplish unless her mission was to have happen exactly what did, (provoke the protesters.) That aside, the way she was treated was not acceptable. If we are going to win over hearts and minds to our struggles, we must remain nonviolence in action, mind and spirit. The spirit of our actions must be love.
During the 50s and 60s civil rights marches and direct nonviolent actions, protester never used violence regardless what was happening or how angry they were. Fire hoses where brought out to try and stopped the protesters (and hurt them) and the protesters danced in the water, but never fired backed in violence or anger. In the lunch counter protests, courageous people were subjected to milk being pour on their heads, food mashed in the faces and brutally beatings by segregationist. Those protesters never fought back. All of them were either trained in Nonviolence by Martin Luther King, Jr. or members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
The successes of the protests during the civil rights movement were dependent on nonviolence as taught by King. A gay man by the name of Bayard Rustin, a close confident and friend of King, was responsible for King learning the ways of Gandhi. He was a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and a strong influence on the creation of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) which was influence by Thoreau and Gandhi’s models of civil protest using noncooperation. We cannot win without nonviolence. We cannot change minds and hearts without the use of nonviolence.
Nonviolence is not for cowards, it is for those strong enough to stand up to oppression without becoming the oppressor. We have got to be the ones on the right side of justice and if we use violence we are not on the right side of justice. Every protest must be free of violence even if violence is inflicted upon us. We must get back up and stand tall letting our opponents know we will not back down no matter what they throw at us. We must follow the paths we know works from our history and that is NONVIOLENCE.
So when you go to the protest and stand for equality, embrace those who hate you, it is the only way to win the over. Gandhi said it well, the object of nonviolence is not to win against your adversary but to win over your adversary. We must win over hearts and minds and never use violence. We must stand tall knowing that justice is on our side.
To the left of this post, you will find Martin Luther King, Jr’s 6 Principles of Nonviolence that I hope you will study. To the top right, you will find more links to information about nonviolence and its POWER. Spread the word to others that we must remain nonviolent in our actions, our words and our spirits no matter how angry we get. We must channel our anger into a force more powerful than their ignorance and hate…love.
Soulforce has also made a plea for us to remain nonviolent in our protests. They write:
Nonviolent direct action strategies such as marches, vigils, demonstrations, boycotts, public protests, and civil disobedience, seek to create what Dr. King called “healthy tension.” This constructive nonviolent tension forces those who perpetuate injustice, and society as a whole, to pause, reflect, and consider the ugliness of their prejudices and the indecency embodied in their discrimination. In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King wrote: “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.” Public protests empower us and educate those who are still the victims of fear and division.
It’s imperative that we remain nonviolent in our approach. Although it may provide short term emotional release, it’s ultimately counterproductive to scream expletives at those who have harmed us. We must refrain from damaging property or trying to destroy the character of others and instead approach those who promote discrimination in a spirit of nonviolence. As both Gandhi and King taught, we must avoid violence of the fist, tongue, and heart and remember that in truth we are challenging unjust systems, not people. In due course, we seek to be in community with those from whom we currently find ourselves divided.
It shouldn’t need to be said that I am against Prop 8 and Prop 102, but I will say it for the sake of reinforcing it. I am completely against Prop 8 in California and I am against Prop 102 in Arizona as these do not meet my needs for equality and fairness. I am a married gay man who hopes to stay married in the eyes of my government.
With that out of the way, I can’t help but feel some anguish and disappointment over the numbers, the facts or lack of them and the misuse of science. I realize both sides of this argument feel they are right and in my eyes one of them is right. What disgusts me is the ignorance of most of those on the “Yes on 8″ side of this argument when it comes to the science, the history and the real impact of the arguments. One of the pieces of this that is embarrassing to us as a Country, is that the average citizen in America doesn’t know the history of marriage. They have blindly taken the word of their pastors or right wing leaders. They have not pulled out the history books on Ancient Rome, long before the bible was even written or its fictional characters where even born, and learned marriage was a civil arrangement of property. Most marriages had little to do with love, but keeping property in the wealthy families.
The average citizen in this Country also doesn’t know all of the science concerning homosexuality. Why would they? Most red state Americans are against teaching science in the classroom unless it fits with their view of world through the lens of their bibles. Sadly, most of the time, the science disagrees with religion and that has become dangerous for us as a Country. The average American still believes (because of anti-gay hate speech) that homosexuality is some chosen lifestyle, gays all live the same lifestyle, and that we can become “ex-gay.” This writer wonders how we will ever stop global warming, HIV/AIDS or Avian Flu when we don’t even teach kids facts through science, we teach them social opinions. We should be showing them the science as it is current and available in the age of information.
Prop 8 supporters will tell you the rhetoric that they are voting to “support traditional marriage”, but we all know that is bullshit. The facts cannot be ignored this time. They are not voting “for” anything, they are voting against gay people using fear and lies as their guide. All the while, raising millions of dollars that could so easily have saved thousands of people from poverty, starvation, foreclosure and disease. I am convinced that if you ask any average American who is losing their home, living in poverty whether or not they would like to protect marriage from the homo’s or find a way to keep their home, marriage would drop low on the list of priorities.
This for me, is about priorities and nonviolence. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it well when he said we need to “gather all the information and then educate all involved” of the facts. When we really look at the science of sexuality, the history of marriage and the facts the “yes on 8″ campaign is using to raise money we see that facts are the furtherest thing from the argument. In fact, the entire argument is void of facts all together. Ask any reputable biologist what they think about their facts about sexual orientation, then ask any professor of ancient history of marriage then put the two together and watch all of the arguments fall apart for the entire anti-marriage campaign.
What bothers me most is the money we are being forced to spend to save gay marriage while the evidence and facts are ignored in favor of theocracy. $100 million would save so many lives, buy lots of homes, feed lots of homeless. Instead, we are using $100 million dollars to have a worthless discussion over nonexistent facts all the while ignoring the real facts and real history. How frustrating it must be to be starving, losing your home or dying because you can’t afford medical care, to learn that Christians spent millions oppressing people in spite of the facts when they could have been treating the neighbors to life saving assistance. Truly our priorities are severely out of sync with reality.
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"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.
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